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Need help with the CCRN®?

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Study Guides

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Exam information

What you need to know about the CCRN

The 150 multiple-choice questions on the CCRN test cover the following areas, in these approximate percentages:

  • Cardiovascular (17%)
  • Respiratory (15%)
  • Endocrine/Hematology/Gastrointestinal/Renal/Integumentary (20%)
  • Musculoskeletal/Neurology/Psychosocial (14%)
  • Multisystem (14%)
  • Professional Caring and Ethical Practice (20%)

Each question begins with a short scenario and asks you to make some sort of decision, as you would in a critical care nursing role, about client care or other related topics.

The test handbook also lists a broad array of specific things certified nurses must be able to do, and it is assumed these skills will also be tested within the test framework. They are called Testable Nursing Actions.

Note: We provide test prep for the adult version of the CCRN test, but there are tests required for pediatric and neonatal critical care certification as well.

Exam facts

Answers to all your questions about the CCRN®

Table of Contents

What are the costs?

The cost for a first attempt at the CCRN test is $245 for candidates who are members of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and $360 for non-members. If you need to retake the test to pass or you take it for CCRN renewal purposes, the cost will be $170 for AACN members and $275 for non-members.

What should I bring?

To be admitted to the CCRN exam, you must provide two forms of identification. The first must display your photo and signature. The second must show your printed name and signature. If you take the paper and pencil version of the test, special pencils will be provided for marking answers. Any notes you take during the exam must be turned in before you exit the exam room. There is no eating, drinking, or smoking in the test site and any breaks are part of your testing time.

How is it scored?

It is highly recommended that you take the online version of this test. In doing so, you will have your score immediately after you finish testing. Paper-and-pencil test results take six to eight weeks to arrive.

You can apply to take the test at the site of the CCRN certifying body.

There is a passing score that is derived from overall performance on the test prior to your testing date. Contact local testing officials to find out more about the score you’ll need to pass.

What kind of job can I get?

Providing care to critically ill clients requires an additional level of expertise. Having a CCRN certification confirms that you are up to the task and will enable you to be considered for jobs requiring these advanced skills. These jobs may include care of adult, pediatric, or neonatal clients. (This test prep only deals with the adult CCRN assessment.) The setting of such jobs may vary as well. Critical care nurses are needed in not only ICUs of various types (cardiac, medical, surgical, etc.), but also in these nursing environments:

  • Emergency room
  • Flight/transport care
  • Remote locations
  • Trauma centers

Am I eligible?

To take the CCRN test, you must have:

  • A current, unencumbered U.S. RN or APRN license
  • A set amount of accumulated hours of actual practice with critically ill clients (with verification)

There are also renewal options. Specific details about all requirements can be found beginning on page 7 of The CCRN Exam Handbook.

Why does it matter?

A general goal of the medical community is to employ only certified nurses in each field, and critical care is a vital area for coverage with opportunities for employment in many situations and locations. You are much more likely to obtain your choice of position and feel competent performing your job if you are critical-care certified.

What salary can I expect?

According to Ameritech (College of Healthcare), critical care nursing is one of the top seven nursing specialties in terms of income, with a median annual salary of $80,000, compared to the median salary for RNs, which is about $67,000.

When is it available?

The CCRN test is available at 300 AMP testing centers nationwide. To find information about registering, go to page 11 of this CCRN Policy Handbook.

How much time is allowed?

The CCRN (adult) test is about three hours long and contains 150 questions.

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